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A Girl Named Faithful Plum: The True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream Paperback – September 11, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1080L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375871586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375871580
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #288,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2011:
"A fascinating and memorable account of a life and times difficult to imagine today."

Booklist, September 15, 2011:
Leaving her poor, remote village in 1978, 11-year-old Zhongmei Li traveled an arduous three-day journey to audition for the Beijing Dance Academy. At the end of the highly competitive seven-stage competition, despite her rural background and lack of connections, she was one of the few girls selected. At the academy, a rigid dormitory supervisor and hostile teacher make life miserable for the young student, but the resolute Zhongmei survives the eight-year training and becomes a successful dancer. Written by her U.S. husband, this biography follows the steely, determined dancer through many adversities up to her academy graduation. Although the narrative is occasionally overly descriptive, it is packed with cultural information. It explains, for example, how a list of names is organized for posting, as there is no alphabetical order in Chinese. Inspiring for would-be dancers, Zhongmei Li’s gritty success story is also a revealing window into post-Mao China. — Linda Perkins


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Growing up in East Haddam, Connecticut, RICHARD BERNSTEIN always dreamed of seeing the world, and after he finished college he figured a great way to do that would be to become a newspaper reporter. So he became a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine and then the New York Times, which sent him—all expenses paid!—to lots of countries, including Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, France, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Mozambique, and about 20 others. A Girl Named Faithful Plum is his first book for young readers, but he's sure it won't be his last. Richard lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Zhongmei (who is Faithful Plum!), his son, Elias, and their cat, Lucky.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
I highly recommend it, even for boys.
Hannah Z.
A wonderfully written true story that gives the reader a tiny glimpse of life in China in the late 70's and the struggles to become a world class ballerina.
Lynne Powell
What a wonderful and touching story and what a great book, defintely one of the most beautiful and intense ones I read for a long time.
Isabel, Germany

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pauline on November 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating and engaging story of a young girl's determination to follow her dream and the strength of will it took to get her there.
At the end of the book, my only wish was that the story continued...
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By Lee on March 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Engaging and fast paced. Our kid read this very quickly because the story was so absorbing. Kids interested in dance may particularly find this story compelling.
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By Amazon Customer on March 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love this book. It was amazing. I would Definately read this book al over again, Shen I get the chance
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By R Knight on January 27, 2013
Format: Library Binding
I checked this book out from my daughter's school library, the cover was so beautiful I couldn't resist. Also the fact that it was a non-fiction chapter book for kids intrigued me. Just had no clue how much I was going to enjoy this book! The story of this woman's life as a young child in rural China alone was worth my time. Her determination when she was so young inspired me. RK Everett, WA
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The real life of this amazing dancer who had to fight discrimination, poverty, solitude to achieve a dream. Giving up wasn't an answer.
After you finish, you'll agree that she sounds like a beautiful person.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book for kids in middle school, and I enjoyed reading it as well. I highly recommend it, even for boys.
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Format: Hardcover
True story of an impoverished 11 year old girl from northern China (Siberia being the town's back fence) in the 1970s who travels to Beijing and tries out for the Beijing Dance Academy (She and 30,000 other kids). Her difficulties in getting to Beijing and then the prejudices she faces at the school make for a wonderful tale. She's an amazing girl and I liked the story.

But...

It read like a 40 year-old man was `telling' us about and 11 year old girl. It was REALLY dry. Biographical dry. Lacking in everything I usually love about YA. I wanted this girl's emotional journey. I wanted to connect with her, to live her successes, failures, and fears. She's an amazing character and it's all that more amazing because it was real. I want to BE her, not read ABOUT her.

I got facts instead of personalities. And that's too bad. Nothing came to life to me. Not the characters, the setting (It's 2 years after Mao's death. China is a MESS, and we only get a reporter-like view of its pieces being put back together), the conflict, the plot. In truth, I think the story was just written by the wrong person (a journalist).

(It occurs to me that written as a futuristic fantasy, this story (with very little change other than a deeper POV) would do really well in the current YA Dystopian craze.)

In total, I enjoyed it. I'm glad I read it. It lacked punch. I wouldn't read anything else MG/YA by this author.
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